Students and faculty representing the seven health science schools came together Thursday night at Munger Graduate Residences for a town hall hosted by the University of Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education.

The Center for Interprofessional Education serves as the overarching body for the $6 million investment the health science schools committed to interprofessional education in 2015.

Frank Ascione, director of the Center for Interprofessional Education, explained that the focus of IPE is “to develop a curriculum that allows students to gain the necessary attitude, knowledge and skills to become effective members of health care.”

This event marked the third year of the town hall and involved a planning committee of over 20 students representing all seven health science schools. Trotter Multicultural Center facilitators led the agenda for the evening and assisted in making the town hall a welcoming environment for those in attendance.

Vani Patterson, assistant director of the Center for Interprofessional Education, noted how valuable student voices were in planning the event.

“(The students) wanted to bring in a team who could present an actual case and have students work through it and get the feel for what it is actually like,” Patterson said.

A clinical case was the cornerstone of the evening as students were split into groups and given a case study concerning a patient suffering from chronic kidney disease. For many students, this was the first time they had an opportunity to discuss a treatment plan with health science students from different schools

Medical School student Lynze Franko said the town hall allowed her to gain insight into the value of working with other health science professionals to elevate patient outcomes.

“I think often in medicine we can fix a problem or a symptom and help with that, but the patient lives are so often more dependent on their interpersonal communications and what support they have at home,” Franko said. “Those interventions can make a lot more difference in the patient’s quality of life than changing their medication or monitoring a certain disease factor.”

Michelle Pardee, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, said she has observed within the classroom how interprofessional education has allowed graduate students to become better communicators and better recognize the skill sets that other professionals have. Due to this redirected interprofessional focus within health science education, Pardee has also experienced an unexpected personal benefit.

“It has been a really nice re-energizing for my teaching and my clinical practice. The University is so much smaller than it ever used to be because I know faculty from all the other programs now and can call them if I have questions about anything,” Pardee said.

According to Pardee, this realization is one of the greatest assets of interprofessional education and can be translated to the clinical practice arena to increase job satisfaction, reduce burnout and also contribute to a better functioning health care environment.

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